Researchers from across Canada received more than $3 million this year from the Alzheimer Society Research Program (ASRP) to improve the lives of those with dementia.
“Our country boasts some of the world’s best researchers and the Society is committed to supporting them,” says Mimi Lowi-Young, CEO of the Alzheimer Society of Canada. “Their projects could fundamentally change the lives of people already impacted by this devastating disease and improve the outlook for those at risk.”
The ASRP is a collaborative initiative of the provincial Alzheimer Societies, the Alzheimer Society of Canada, partners and donors. This year, it distributed $3,296,656.00, for a total of 29 grants and awards. Since the program launched in 1989, it has awarded more than $43 million.
Breakthroughs in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the disease are desperately needed: 747,000 Canadians are living with dementia today. By 2031, that number will jump to 1.4 million.
There is still no cure. Some drugs may temporarily improve symptoms, but none can slow, stop, or reverse them. That’s why many ASRP-funded researchers are delving into the science of the brain. Their goal is to identify potential new treatments, use neuroimaging to distinguish different forms of dementia, and study how diet and other lifestyle choices may delay the disease. But because it can take decades for biomedical studies to yield results, the Alzheimer Society also funds research that can help people with dementia live well today.
Check out our researcher profiles to learn more about some of the fantastic research taking place across Canada:
Neurobiologist Dr. Gordon Glazner (based at the St. Boniface Hospital Research Centre in Winnipeg) is examining links between diabetes and dementia in hopes of discovering a cure.
Dr. Krista Lanctôt, a senior researcher at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Research Institute and an expert in neuropsychiatric problems, received a grant to study a drug that may safely and effectively control severe agitation in people with the disease. She is one of many ASRP-funded researchers studying issues that impact the quality of life of people with dementia and their caregivers, including risk factors, behavioural and cognitive changes, physical support, caregiving and health service delivery.
Frank Rudzicz is a researcher at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute with an expertise in using artificial intelligence to understand speech problems. He has designed voice-based software to “converse” with a person and assess their speech for aphasia and for language problems associated with memory loss.
Neuroscientist Kim Miredin hopes to boost “brain reserve”, the resilience of the brain despite increase damage, using a combination of using a combination of cognitive training and drugs. The more brain reserve we have, the better our brains cope, despite increased damage. It’s been linked to the brain’s ability to form new connections among neurons to make up for lost ones.
Marinko Sarunic, a biomedical engineer at Simon Fraser University, and his team aim to better understand the link between changes in the eye and the plaque build-up we see in the brains of those with Alzheimer’s disease. Recent research suggests that this buildup of plaque also happens in the retina, the back of the eye where light-sensitive cells trigger the images we see. They hope to use this better understanding to provide early diagnoses and speed up drug testing.
Learn more about the Alzheimer Society Research Program and how you can help us to shed light and hope on dementia at www.alzheimer.ca.